Daughter films “emotional” documentary to highlight father’s battle with multiple sclerosis and his pioneering treatment

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

 

A Leicestershire-based film student is aiming to raise awareness of a pioneering new treatment for sufferers of multiple sclerosis by making a documentary all about her dad’s struggles with the disease.

Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a condition which affects the brain and spinal cord, leading to many symptoms as nerves are damaged. This often leads to significant physical problems, such as muscle weakness.

Student filmmaker Amy King’s father, Andy, discovered he had the degenerative disease two years ago after he began to have difficulties moving. He was told he may never walk again.

“Finding my Feet” will explore the personal impact MS can have on the family of those who suffer from the condition and will look at a new treatment which could mean Andy will be able to keep walking.

She described her experience of the disease as “emotional”, but feels it is important to raise awareness of the condition, which affects 100,000 people in the UK.

The nineteen-year-old, who lives with dad Andy in Newbold Vernon, said: “It’s emotional to see someone you love suffer.

“I was inspired because it’s not a common problem. I didn’t know anything about it until I found out about my dad and it is something which needs highlighting.”

The treatment Andy is receiving is called functional electrical stimulation and works by applying electrical charges to muscles affected by the weakening effects of MS.

Despite having been approved for use by sufferers of MS since the 1990s, FES is being studied to gauge if it may be effective in improving walking distances for patients.

For Amy, anything which may help her dad regain a sense of independence is a positive: “[My dad] is a really independent person. We used to do a lot of sporting activities and it’s hard for us both to not do that together.

“I hope this treatment will improve his quality of life.”

Despite being an approved treatment for MS, FES services are still quite patchy, with Andy having to travel to Selly Oak Health Centre in Birmingham to access the therapy. It is hoped more potential uses of FES could be found to increase funding.

Amy expects the short documentary to be completed this summer and wants to use it to inspire those diagnosed with the disease and give hope to their families.

Paralysed ex-rugby player Matt Hampson to headline De Montfort University Autism Awareness events

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

02 - Autism awareness image

Matt Hampson will tell De Montfort students with disabilities to ‘Get Busy Living’

Former professional rugby player Matt Hampson will be bringing his message of “Get Busy Living” to De Montfort University with a motivational speech as part of Autism Awareness Week.

Matt, who was paralysed from the neck down in 2005 following an accidental injury during training, will be giving a talk in the atrium of the Students’ Union on Tuesday(APR2).

His talk at midday will be part of the Get Busy Living Fair which runs from 11am until 3pm on the day.

The former England youth international now frequently gives motivational speeches about his experiences, through The Matt Hampson Foundation, which was set up in 2011.

Dani Findley, Lead Autism Specialist Mentor at DMU, said: “Matt is a very inspiring person, the way he speaks about disability is inspiring for anyone, not just those with disabilities.

“It feels great to have Matt and his team involved with DMU.”

The DMU Autism Team cheekily borrowed Matt’s signature phrase Get Busy Living for the fair, which itself hails from the film The Shawshank Redemption, as they feel it is “empowering but not patronising.”

Dani said: “To me it means whatever life throws at you, pick yourself up and live the life you deserve.”

There will also be students with autism speaking about their experiences at the fair, which it is hoped will give insight into the day-to-day life of an autistic student.

With more than 300 autistic students on campus, Dani said that staff and students should be aware of how to make their lives that little bit easier.

“There is a big misconception about what autism is, it is good for people to learn further.”

Mabelsocks

Mabel in her silly socks

The week’s events start on Monday and culminate with Silly Sock Day on Friday, April 5. Students and staff are encouraged to don their daftest pair and take a photo with the hashtag #sillysockdaydmu.

Dani has already signed one pair of soles up to the silly sock scheme – her dog Mabel will be the face (or paw) of the university’s Twitter campaign. It should certainly help to make it a sock-cess.

For more information visit: www.dmu.ac.uk/current-students/hot-topics/2019/march/autism-awareness-week-at-dmu.aspx